Being trapped in a foreign country is something none of us want to happen to us, much worse, being trapped in the airport.
This 36-year-old Syrian man, Hassan Al Kontar, has reportedly spent more than a month living in KLIA2 after he was left short on money and stranded by immigration officials.
Source: The Guardian
Hassan has been using Twitter to share his story with the world, recording multiple videos of his day-to-day life living in the bustling airport.
According to The Guardian, he explained in one of his videos that he left Syria 8 years ago, and a warrant has since been issued for his arrest for refusing a call-up for military service.
“It’s not only my problem. It’s the problem of hundreds of Syrian guys who feel they are hated, rejected, unwanted, weak, lonely.”
It is learned that Hassan was living and working in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 2006 until 2011 when the Syrian civil war began and caused him to lose his work permit.
Because the UAE refused to renew his residency visa, he continued to live there illegally for a while.
According to Coconuts, when the authorities caught up with Hassan in 2016, he was sent to a deportation facility, then forwarded on to Malaysia, one of the few countries to offer visa on arrival for Syrians.
However, he overstayed his three-month visa-free period, he once again found himself without legal standing when that expired in January 2017. After saving money in Malaysia for a year, he was finally able to buy a plane ticket out of the country to what he thought was a safe haven: Ecuador in February 2018.
Unfortunately, he was not allowed to enter the South American nation at the last minute, and had to board a flight to Cambodia, where he was not allowed to enter once again.
Finally, without much other options or money, Hassan returned to KL, but faced the same dilemma and was not allowed to enter Malaysia.
In the present day, Hassan has been stranded in KLIA2 for 38 days. He reportedly told The Guardian,
“I don’t know what to say or what to do. I need a solution, I need a safe place where I can be legally, with work. Syria is out of the question, even if I am staying here forever.
“I don’t want to be part of the fight, I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t want to be killed as well. It’s not my war.”
Hassan has resorted to sleeping under stairwells and using the airport’s toilet to shower and wash his clothes in the middle of the night when there are not many people around.
Since getting stranded at the airport, he has been documenting his time here by uploading videos to Twitter and e-mailing various human rights groups for help.
Meanwhile, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch has since called on Malaysian authorities to grant United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR) full access so that they can investigate Hassan’s refugee status and assist him. He told the news portal:
“Malaysian authorities continue to say they are concerned about the bloodshed and horror being inflicted on civilians in Syria’s ongoing civil war, but cases like Hassan Kontar’s will demonstrate whether Malaysia is prepared to back that rhetoric with real action.”
On April 11, Hassan finally met with officials from The Office of the UNHCR. He said,
“Today they (UNHCR) came and met me. They are going to study the file but they have no time period or no guarantee about the result… so I don’t know how long this may take, and it may take long time.”
We pray that the local authorities will do their best to help Hassan with his situation so that he doesn’t have to remain stranded at the airport anymore. We’re pretty sure many of you understand how expensive the food and beverage are in KLIA2, he won’t be able to survive on his remaining money for long.
What are your thoughts on this? Is there any other way to help Hassan out? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!
(Source: The Guardian / Coconuts / WOB)